Julius Randle scored 43 points, the last of them on a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left, and the New York Knicks extended their winning streak to eight games with a 122-120 win over the Miami Heat on Friday night.
Randle was 16 of 25 from the floor, including 8 of 13 from three-point range. Jalen Brunson scored 25 points, Immanuel Quickley added 21 and RJ Barrett scored 17 for New York.
Brunson also left the game in the third quarter with what looked to be a bad ankle sprain. He went down and got up with a significant limp. He was unable to get back on defense and was subbed out of the game and taken to the locker room.
However, he was able to return in the fourth quarter, so the Knicks will hope he doesn’t miss too much, if any, time once the adrenaline wears off.
Jimmy Butler scored 33 points and Tyler Herro scored 29 for Miami, including a layup that put the Heat up by one with 23.1 seconds left.
But Randle came through with what became the game-winner on a play where he lost the ball momentarily, sending Miami to its sixth loss in seven games. The Heat had one last possession, but turned the ball over on the inbounds pass and never got a last shot off.
New York has been playing incredible basketball of late and has averaged 66.2 first-half points in its last nine games after managing only 40 at Orlando in the first 24 minutes on Feb. 7
New York led 71-56 at the half, after another first two quarters of Miami being unable to get much in the way of stops.
Now at 38-27, the Knicks have already topped last season’s win total — the sixth team in the NBA to do so already this season, joining Sacramento, Indiana, Oklahoma City, Portland, and Orlando.
It was a bad night for Miami (33-31) in the standings. They’re now 4 1/2 games behind No. 5 New York, fell 2 1/2 games behind No. 6 Brooklyn after the Nets erased a 28-point deficit to stun Boston, and saw their lead over No. 8 Atlanta trimmed to a half-game after the Hawks beat Portland. Atlanta plays its next two games at Miami, the first Saturday and the rematch on Monday.
Bam Adebayo scored 18 and Caleb Martin added 14 for Miami.
The Heat also gave up 71 points by the break on Wednesday in a loss to Philadelphia; doing so again Friday marked the first time in the team’s 35-year history that they allowed at least 71 points in back-to-back first halves.
But Miami got back into the game in the third, cutting what was a 17-point deficit down to three on a 3-pointer by Herro with 2:22 left in that period. A three-point play by Martin got Miami within three again, this time with 10:03 left in the fourth.
And eventually, Miami got the lead — 107-106, on a 3-pointer by Martin with 5:45 left. But Randle came through at the end to see it for New York.
It’s New York’s second eight-game winning streak of the season, joining one from December. The last season in which a Knicks team had two separate winning streaks of at least eight games was 1972-73 — also the last season in which the Knicks won an NBA title.
New York will look to keep the momentum going when they travel to Boston on Sunday to take on the Celtics, who they defeated handily in Madison Square Garden on Monday.